Frederick Jackson Turner famously wrote about the ‘Significance of the Frontier in American History’ in 1893.
The preceding century would shape the American psyche, and therefore the world, in a way that has to be seen to be believed (not less understood).
So, with that in mind…
Watch one Western.
That’s all it takes.
Your first smoke.
Your first swig.
Your first drag.
Your first drink.
And you’re hooked.
Westerns are good for you.
A good western is life affirming.
It is pure.
It is raw.
It is a revelation.
Law created out of lawlessness.
Sense rising from the ashes of anarchy.
Justice taking the place of arbitrary cruelty.
Substance created out of hope.
Take no bullshit, 2nd Amendment stuff.
Truly, advancement of man through the actions of unreasonable men.
Identifying your true enemy is often seen as the key to a happy life
Westerns lay bare the truth: the enemy is someone who wants the same thing you want.
And you can’t both win.
How big are your balls?
How cool is your brow?
How thought-out is your shot?
For in a western we learn not to be fast, but to aim true.
And with conviction.
There are no grey areas in this black and white world.
And as Eastwood famously said “Deserves got nothing to do with it”.
Are you getting in someone’s way or are they in yours?
Watch westerns vicariously
Try to put yourself in the shoes of the hero, villain, or bystander.
And sample the Gold Rush.
The OK Coral.
High noon, loons and saloons.
Note, these are works of art best enjoyed with a whisky and a cigarette.
Your gateway drug:
Choose from Unforgiven, Pale Rider, or Dances with Wolves.
They will all transport you to the American Frontier of the nineteenth century.
Much like the sport of horseracing, westerns have three main thoroughbred studs;
Eastwood, Costner, and Wayne.
Costner is cannabis
Eastwood is coke
And Wayne is the white lady herself.
Disguised as a man dressed in black.
With a blazing saddle, and a smoking pistol.
Don’t feel bad for losers in all this, the Native American Indians.
That path leads to recovery and remorse.
And the stale world of blockbusters and Cannes-wannabe indies.
Much like Costner’s character in Dances with Wolves, I urge you to drop everything and go investigate the frontier.
We have a love-hate relationship with America, some of it born of jealousy. Some misunderstanding. If Americans give up the right (or burden) to bear arms, they are effectively saying goodbye to the last vestiges they have of the American Dream, best personified by the Western.
For a similar time period, all we have in England is Downtown Abbey and other similarly sanitized historical treatises. (Then again, we don’t have High School massacres and Cinema shoot-ups). We lived a different history: stable and boring. Westerns display the antonym to these two words. And go a long way to explaining why Piers Morgan is having such a hard time getting his anti-gun message across right now.
So, with the Western being an eye-opening and complex blend of fact and fiction, why don’t you take the reins off, saddle up, and head west for a couple hours?
© Tim Postle 2014